Food for Thought; Career Development Strategy

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I have always had a passion for people, their development and the actualisation of their dreams and aspirations. As a woman, I have a particular interest in the powerful legacies women can leave behind through our careers and family-life. As a result of my passion, I developed a career dedicated to positively transforming the lives of people, especially the working class in Ghana; L’AINE Services.

 

Through this business, I am proud to say we have transformed the lives and shaped the careers of thousands of people. Now, I am excited to share with you timely and relevant career development strategies that will help you succeed in the world of work.

First, let us make a distinction between a career and a job. A job is something one does in the short term in order to meet a financial need. A career on the other hand is the pursuit of a well-thought through life-long dream or vision. A career usually requires special learning that includes individualised components that develop abilities beyond that which training is capable of, while a job may or may not require an education or special training.

 

Often, the pursuit of a career comes at great cost to the individual concerned: it may require having to sacrifice some seemingly lucrative offers in sectors that are not directly related to their vision and building expertise in an industry related to their passion. Perhaps, the most significant difference between a job and a career is in a person’s attitude. That notwithstanding, it is also necessary to mention that, sometimes, in order to broaden one’s skill base, it will be prudent for one to take on different roles and jobs (some of which may not be directly related) so as to enrich his or her knowledge. This advice may be useful for persons planning to go into areas such as: management consulting or corporate strategy. Armed with this insight, I want to suggest that you craft a plan and strategy for your career.

 

A career strategy is simply a detailed plan with timelines for bridging the gap between where a person is and where he or she intends to be. For purposes of clarity, let me demonstrate this with an analogy…

 

A fresh economics graduate decides to become a full university professor in 24 years. She will need to have a clear strategy to guide her. One option is that, after national service, she can choose to work in industry for two years, and then go and study for an MSc or MPhil degree in economics for another two years. To gain insight into some aspect of monetary economics or public policy, she may decide to take up an appointment with the Bank of Ghana or with a policy think tank to deepen her knowledge in the aforementioned areas, which could take another four years.

 

After deepening her knowledge, she may decide to pursue a three-year PhD programme in International Finance & Economics. Already, twelve (12) out of the twenty-four (24) years are gone. After her PhD, she may secure a teaching appointment with a university as a Lecturer. After lecturing for five (5) years, she applies and is appointed a Senior Lecturer and later as Head of Department. Then, after 4 years, she is appointed an Associate Professor.

 

Four years later, a full professorship is conferred on her by the university. Now, assuming she graduated from the university at age 23, by the time she would have attained full professorship status, she would have been 47. The lesson here is: chances are that, without a clear career development plan and strategy, she would have turned 47 and still would not have achieved her goal of becoming a full university professor. Someone else may dream of becoming the Chief Executive of a multinational by 45. To another, she may intend to set up her own consulting business by Age 35. Whatever your career dreams are, it is instructive to have a plan and a strategy. Without it, your dreams are likely not to materialise, at the time you wish them to. It is usually explained in this way: If you do not know where you are going, any road will take you there.

 

The decision to pursue a PhD may not be applicable to all – but may be essential if you wish to stay in Academia. These days, people go to school for going to school sake or to while away the time because they are not getting a job.

 

In designing a career development strategy, I will challenge you to consider the following nuggets:

Trust in God:

 

There seems to be a postmodern attempt to alienate God from the success equation. The many self-help books on our shelves lately prescribe all manner of success principles except God. Let me first register my disappointment at this development; true success is the one God gives. Yes, success hinges on hard work and tons of discipline but the God factor is unquestionable: knowing Him protects and preserves your wealth and gives you peace to enjoy your riches.

Discover your Purpose:

Dr. Myles Monroe once said, “The greatest tragedy in life is not death, but a life without a purpose.” You should discover the one thing you were born to do and to commit your life to living it. Often, purpose discovery comes through either revelation or association. There are times when God will drop a vision in your heart and then bring amazing ideas and people your way to help you actualise it, as it was in the biblical case of Joseph. There are also times when your association with someone reveals to you a gift or potential you have within you, as it was with Elijah and Elisha. In fact, your purpose is always connected to your giftedness. The world has a place for persons that are able to successfully convert their talents or gifts into an enterprising craft. My observation is: when your purpose and your career are aligned, you impact with excellence.

 

There are 2 important days in everybody’s life – the day you are born and the second is the day you discover why you were born. However, there are many who do not discover that second day.

 

Be prepared to learn:

The period of time between discovering your purpose and stepping into leadership must be committed to faithful learning. To prove this, I will share with you the story of David. When David was barely 17 years, God sent the Prophet Samuel to anoint him King of Israel but he only ascended the throne at age 30.

 

Immediately after he was anointed, he was recruited to serve in Saul’s court to play the harp and drive away the evil spirits that tormented Saul:

 

You will only be hired because you have a proven and demonstrable skill and capable of solving problems. He faced stiff opposition from the King after killing Goliath and receiving praises from the ladies:

 

Every dream, career or vision will be challenged; but you have to trust God to see you through. He rose to the top of his career after 13 years of consistent service and training. David waited for 13 years to become king; and it was worth the wait. Please note that nobody rises to the top by accident. As young men and women, you ought to make informed decisions about your careers, beginning today. Decide early in life what you want to become and focus your energy, resources and relationships on achieving that.

 

Live the values of Integrity and Excellence:

We live in a world that is deeply committed to shielding wrong and bending the rules. My final words to you are these: let your light shine before men so they may see your good deeds and glorify your father in Heaven.

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